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Regime sentences 20 to prison over
Subject: Regime sentences 20 to prison over student protests.
Regime sentences 20 to prison over student protests
January 18, 1997
3.56 a.m. EST (0856 GMT)
RANGOON, Burma (AP) -- Twenty people convicted of inciting student
protests in December have each been sentenced to seven years in prison,
the Burmese military regime announced today.
Those imprisoned include six members of pro-democracy leader Aung San
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy. The party has voiced support
for the students but has denied any role in their protests -- the
biggest street unrest in years -- for an independent union and
increased civil liberties.
The other 14 people sentenced were not identified. The government said
none were students.
The government has previously accused the hundreds of students who took
to the streets of being unwitting tools of "external forces.''
The sentencing followed secret trials permitted by emergency
legislation passed 46 years ago and frequently used against political
The ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council closed Burma's
university campuses Dec. 11 to break the unrest -- the most daring
since the 1988 pro-democracy uprising was crushed by troops who gunned
down thousands of protesters.
Most campuses have reopened, but those at the heart of the unrest
remain closed. It is uncertain when they might open or whether final
exams normally taken in February will be held.
Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent
promotion of democracy, has increasingly been the target of a
government campaign to restrict her activities and weaken her party.
Scores of her supporters have been imprisoned since she was freed from
house arrest in 1995. The regime rejects her calls for dialogue.
Military leaders have accused her party, die-hard elements of the
moribund Burmese Communist Party, and ethnic and student rebels of
fomenting the protests and orchestrating a Christmas Day bombing at a
pagoda compound that killed five people and injured 17. They deny the
More than 15 of Burma's insurgent groups, including several that have
signed cease-fires with the government, demanded last week that the
military leaders open a three-way dialogue with their leaders and Suu
Five of the smaller groups announced today, in a statement seen in
Bangkok, Thailand, that they had formed a new umbrella group in Shan
State, a notorious opium-growing area, to wage armed resistance. They
called the new alliance the United Nationalities Shan State Armies.
They expressed support for Suu Kyi, denounced a national convention
drafting a new constitution as a "sham'' designed to prolong military
rule, and expressed opposition to opium cultivation, calling it a
result of years of military misrule.
[FOXNews, January 18, 1988].